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  • Charlotte Miller + Emily Abbott

Celebrating World Health Day: Advancing Intergenerational Health Equity

As we mark World Health Day on April 7th, the global community comes together to celebrate the theme: My health, my right. At Intergenerational England, we embrace this theme as an opportunity to reflect on the fundamental right to health for people of all ages. In this blog, we delve into the importance of advancing intergenerational health equity, the role it plays in shaping healthier and more inclusive communities and outline our vision for growing this thinking in the future. 


Reflecting on Health as a Human Right: 


The World Health Organization (WHO) asserts that access to healthcare is a basic human right, yet many individuals still face barriers to receiving essential health services. Across the world, disparities in healthcare access persist, affecting vulnerable populations disproportionately. It is crucial to recognise that ensuring equal access to healthcare is not only a basic human right but also a key determinant of overall wellbeing.  


We are deeply committed to understanding health in the context of broader determinants of individual wellbeing, ranging from housing and education to nutrition and economic stability. However, within this broad spectrum, we recognise the profound influence of social connections and relationships. Strong social ties cultivate feelings of belonging, provide emotional support, and foster mutual trust, all of which are vital for mental and emotional wellbeing. Positive relationships enhance resilience during challenging times and open doors to resources and opportunities. 


Taking Action for Health Equity: 


WHO identifies advocacy, community organisations and active participation as essential tools for ensuring equitable access to healthcare. By raising our voices, mobilising communities and engaging in meaningful dialogue, we can drive positive change and address systemic barriers to healthcare access. Every individual has the power to advocate for their right to health and contribute to creating a more equitable healthcare system for all.  


While England is fortunate to have the National Health Service (NHS), Dr. Claire Fuller, the National Primary Care Medical Director highlighted a critical point at the Royal Albert Hall Conference for Intergenerational Practice “If the NHS continues working by itself, it can only improve people's health outcomes by 20%”. This highlights the necessity for governments, service providers, local communities and other stakeholders to collaborate in developing comprehensive strategies that address the diverse needs of communities. This is our vision here at Intergenerational England, ensuring that everyone comes together to create services developed by the people, for the people, that transcend age barriers. 

 

Intergenerational Approach to Health Equity: 


At Intergenerational England, we believe that fostering intergenerational connections is essential for promoting health equity across generations. Our approach involves collaborating with local communities, healthcare providers and stakeholders to develop inclusive and age-friendly healthcare frameworks. By engaging in intergenerational dialogue and partnership, we aim to create healthcare systems that meet the diverse needs of individuals of all ages.  

 

Empowering Communities for Change: 


Through our initiatives, our aim is to empower communities to actively engage in the evolution of healthcare policies and practices. Through the creation of spaces whereby diverse dialogue can be heard and acknowledged, we can shift current practices and open up new perspectives in healthcare, inspire communities to champion policies that emphasise inclusivity and equity. Our goal is to enhance and develop partnerships that support the needs of individuals holistically and for the long term. Intergenerational approaches have the ability to bridge gaps across people, sectors and government – working to foster collaboration and build inclusive strategies. Together, we aspire to create a future where everyone, regardless of age, has access and agency when it comes to healthcare and support services. 


Looking ahead, Intergenerational England is dedicated to expanding its efforts to foster intergenerational health equity. We envision a future where intergenerational connections are not only recognised but also integrated into healthcare policies, programmes and practices. Through strategic partnerships, innovative initiatives and targeted advocacy efforts, we aim to amplify the voices of all generations and ensure that healthcare systems are responsive to their diverse needs. 


SUNDAR KATWALA, Director, British Futures Thinktank 


“Across our lives we naturally engage with people who are like us – but that can create social distance between people who are not, a sense of ‘them and us’ across different ages or backgrounds. This can make people feel isolated, anxious or even threatened. Yet actually there is so much that connects us. We need an approach like Intergenerational England’s, that gives different generations more points of contact with each other, and reassurances about our fellow citizens.” 


DR ADRIAN HAYTER, National Clinical Director for Older People and Personalised Care, NHS England. 


“As a society we need to change how we view age and remove the barriers and preconceptions about particular age groups. In bringing people together and valuing each other we give ourselves purpose, positivity and psychological well-being, which drives better cognitive ability and improves physical as well as mental health. Intergenerational England is excellent – its impact on individual and societal health is enormous.” 

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